The LA Conservancy has created a new “microsite” devoted to the history of Wilshire Blvd that shares some of the history and photography of the city’s most iconic boulevard, known for its breadth of architectural styles, diverse ethnicity and communities, and to many as the Main Street of Los Angeles.
Curating the City: Wilshire Boulevard explores each of the eight neighborhoods along the 16 miles of boulevard from downtown to the ocean, including “Wilshire Center”, “Windsor Square/Hancock Park”, and “Miracle Mile/Carthay Circle.” The pages give just enough information to make one appreciate how the boulevard came to be, and how it continues to grow and develop using photography, personal stories and historical descriptions.
While Wilshire Blvd was pieced together from various streets (Nevada Ave in the 1870s in Santa Monica, and Orange Street from MacArthur Park to downtown in the 1880s) it was the millionaire socialist Gaylord Wilshire who in 1895 donated a strip of land 120 feet wide by 1,200 feet long that pulled the boulevard together. His conditions? That it be named for him, and that commercial trucking and railroad lines would be forever banned, lending the boulevard the glamor and esteem to make it an ‘elite residential subdivision.’
The Explore Wilshire Blvd tab gives perhaps the most in-depth descriptions of the specific buildings we blithely pass by on a daily basis. Keyed to a map of the boulevard, the descriptions make one want to take a slow walk down the entirety of the boulevard with the information in hand. Maybe then we’d fully appreciate the neighborhood we inhabit.
You may even be inspired to share your own personal memory or story relating to Wilshire in the site’s Share Your Story segment. These are brief, often nostalgic anecdotes on living or interacting with Wilshire Boulevard that round out the scholarly information with some touching tales, making Wilshire indeed seem like our own Main Street, LA.